So, you just got engaged, now what? The joy of planning a wedding has fallen on your shoulders and you don’t know where to start. This process can be overwhelming but if you start organizing at the beginning everything will fall into place. (You probably already have a Pinterest wedding board, so you’re already ahead of the game!)
By printing out our wedding checklist it will give you an easy reference tool for each month. You will find that some periods of the year are going to be busier than others. This is because a lot of the BIG planning must be completed in the beginning and then everything else falls into place in the later months. Each page will have tips to and information that you probably haven’t thought of if you haven’t been around the wedding planning process before.
What You Will Need
Optional: sheet protectors
Setting up your organizer:
We found that using an accordion organizer was easier because of the simplicity of putting all your paperwork into a slot instead of having to hole punch everything or put in a separate folder. Take this to every appointment that you go to. That way all your research is already there and your ideas are easily accessible to show each vender.
Label each section as: venue/ceremony, attire, photographer, florist, caterer, cake, and invitations.
Place each tab into the individual tab holders. If you have already gathered wedding information, start placing it in each slot.
If you haven’t already printed out your checklist do that now! You’ll need a hole punch or you can easily place the checklist into sheet protectors. It’s also a good idea to have some sheet protectors in the binder part of your trio for special items. Maybe you want to create a final look of your wedding and you can place each final choice here.
Now you are all set up for planning your wedding! If you have planning your wedding in a shorter time frame the check list can still help you. Keep reading for more helpful tips with planning your wedding!
Size: An easy way to see what your options are is to first estimate the size of your wedding. That will narrow your options quite a bit. You do not have to have an exact number, a rough idea will do – whether it be 50, 150, or 300+ guests. Another thing to consider when picking out your venue is if it offers full service. The cost will be more than other venues but with the full service, they take care of everything. Which eliminates the amount of people you have to keep track of on your wedding day. Sometimes the venues have venders the prefer to use. Ask them who these people are because they already know the space. Shop around a little and see which venue will fit your budget whether that be a full service or more of the DIY wedding route.
Season: Consider the time of year you are planning your wedding. Will be it hot, cold, rainy. All things to consider if you plan on having a venue inside or outside. If you plan to have your ceremony or reception outside, make sure to ask the venue if there is a backup indoor space. Most of the time they will.
Hours: Most importantly ask your venue the hours that you can set-up and take down. Each venue is different, some will let you set up the night before others won’t let you in till the day of your wedding when they open. Take this into consideration with your cost as well. You will need to make sure that everyone has enough time to decorate the space. Be sure that you get the venues “hours of operation” policy in writing if it is not already in the contract.
Deposit: Make sure you ask a lot of questions, it isn’t fun being stuck with a contract and you had no idea there was a certain way something had to be down the line. Ask what the rental fee is and the refund policy. Also, more venues will have certain days during the week that are cheaper than your traditional Saturday. They will also have discounts depending on season. For example, November-February aren’t peak wedding months and will offer a cheaper rate.
- Consider the lighting of the venue to make sure you won’t need any extra up lighting or equipment.
- Pick a hotel that is close by for any out of town guests.
- Will there be enough parking?
- Always get a copy of the contract after you sign and give the venue the deposit.
Everything you need to know Wedding Dresses
Time Frame: Picking out your wedding dress can be one of the most fun experiences with planning a wedding, or it can be the worst (I’ll explain later). First consider the timeline of your wedding. Are you waiting a year to get married, 6 months, 3 months? Know that there are options for you in any time frame. Wedding dresses do normally take 6-8 months to arrive. Why does it take so long? Your dress is not made until the order is placed, and majority of dresses are made in China. Most designers keep some dresses in stock (depending on their popularity). Or another option to consider is purchasing your gown off the rack.
Budget: Before you think about cost, look through some bridal magazines. Pull out the pictures that are your favorite. You will probably see that most of the dresses resemble each other while you may have an entire mixture. Take these pictures to your bridal appointment. Your bridal consultant will be able to steer you in the right direction. Yes, most of these people are commissioned, but they see these gowns all the time. They also see them on a lot of different body types and know what will and what won’t work. Trust them.
The Appointment: This goes back to how your appointment will be a fun experience or a not so fun experience. This might be a moment you want to share with your sister(s), mom, bridesmaids, grandmas, cousins, aunts, in laws…you get the picture. This calls for the DO NOT DO IT moment. Narrow your group down to 5 people max. Each person will have a different option on each dress that you try on. Taking the focus away from you and what dress you truly love. All those other people can come to your appointment when your dress arrives to the store. Then everyone must say they love it. People say to each bride that your wedding day is your day. You will soon find out that your wedding day is for everyone else. But the one thing you can control, is what you wear. Pick something you love and feel most comfortable in. Also, don’t forget to wear undergarments. The bridal store will supply some for you if not. And if you really want to, bring some heels to your appointment while you’re trying on dresses.
Do not think you have to shop all day to find your dress. Wedding gowns can only change a few different ways. If you found your dress at the first bridal shop, go for it and enjoy the rest of your day and spend it with those people you brought shopping with you.
Your photographer just might be the most important person on your wedding day. This person captures the memories that you will have for your entire life. These pictures will decorate your home, tell stories to your children, and capture everything that you will have missed.
Budget: You will soon figure out that some wedding photographers can be very expensive. Keep in mind everything that goes into your wedding day: preparation for the wedding, their equipment, editing, and the number of hours they work the day of the wedding. Before meeting your photographer, most will have their prices listed on their websites. Sometimes finding a photographer that is building their portfolio will give you the same quality pictures but won’t break the bank. While you are researching consider the different packages each photographer offers. Keep in mind that you will also need engagement pictures and consider if the price in the packages offer prints and/or all the pictures from your day.
Pictures: Check out their social media accounts to see their wedding portfolio. See if these are the type of pictures that you are wanting. There are so many shots to consider. Go through Pinterest and go to wedding photographer. A whole bunch of pictures will come up. (Do this same step with your engagement pictures). Your photographer will direct you into certain poses but there might be some pictures that you absolutely want. Express your wants and needs to your photographer. Save and print out all the shots you LOVE. Also, consider where you live. You will pick out certain locations for your engagement and wedding pictures. There are pictures you love but there can also be pictures you hate. Let your photographer know that as well.
- Get a contract if the photographer doesn’t have one already. This will protect you from having a headline on the news about a runaway photographer.
- Let your photographer know when you want to take pictures. For example, are you seeing the bride/groom before the actual wedding. Are you doing family pictures before or after the ceremony? Is there any tension among some family members?
Are you feeling stressed out yet after reading what to consider? Well we have a few more things to run through. Knowing types of flowers and designs and colors can be an overwhelming process. If you haven’t considered your wedding colors yet, now is the time to do so.
Picking your flowers: This step, of picking out your flowers, will be determined by your color scheme and season of your wedding. If you don’t already have fabric color samples, get some. These will help the florist in matching your colors to certain flowers. Those peonies that are so beautiful don’t do well in warm climates so the chance to have them in your summer wedding may be unlikely. Take pictures of ideas that you have to your consultation.
Décor: Your florist will probably have other décor items, ask them what they have and if that will work with your wedding theme.
Budget: If DIY option is something that you are considering to cut cost. Do your homework on the costs of each. You don’t necessarily need a name brand florist, like everyone else in the wedding industry there are people that like to do these services as a side job. Ask around and ask for recommendations from people. You may be surprised that a local florist will be just as expensive as a DIY option and will save you a lot of time and stress. A florist also has the flexibility to work within your budget. They can offer certain flowers to maximize and stretch your budget.
Questions to Ask: How will the flowers be delivered? Who will be responsible to breaking down the arrangements at the end of the reception?
Ceremony: Depending on where your ceremony is they may have restrictions to what music can be played. Ask you officiant if there are any restrictions or recommendations. Have no idea what songs are played during the ceremony, click here. Or check out YouTube so you can hear the songs, you will probably be surprised at how familiar they sound.
Reception: You will be selecting songs for each part of the reception, moments you probably haven’t even considered that needed a song selection, for example, cutting the cake or the bouquet toss. Ask for any recommendations of a DJ or band that other people have used. You will want to make sure that your DJ is well-rounded and is a successful entertainer not just a person that can play an iPod. Your DJ can make or break the reception so considering your options and doing your homework is important. See if the DJ offers other services for example, lighting or HD screens.
Song List: A skilled DJ will ask for your favorite songs that are a must as well as the songs that you do not want played. A good DJ will also know the best timing of your event and help everything run smoothly. By asking your DJ these questions you should be able to determine if this is his/hers first gig or they have done this a time or two. Ask your DJ or band if you can see them work a wedding. The best way to see if they are a good fit is see them live in action!
If you wedding venue isn’t full service, you will need to look for a caterer. This is also something you can get very creative with. For example, having food trucks cater or fun food stations. Don’t get stressed about picking your food. Again, keep in mind the amount of guest you will be having.
Consider how you want your food serviced, do you want a sit-down mean, buffet, or cocktail part. Check the prices that go into each and determine the mood or your wedding if you want it more elegant or fun.
Food stations can be a fun way to incorporate snacks through the night and to show off your favorite foods. Have anything from a pizza station to a waffle or breakfast station. Click here for 20 food bar ideas.
Your Wedding Cake
Your wedding cake is another part of your wedding where you can let your personality shine. Do you not like cake? The new trend for 2017 is actually straying away from the traditional wedding cakes and incorporating a burger cake, donut cake, cupcakes, pies, the possibilities are endless.
Budget: Your guest list also comes into consideration with your wedding cake. Pick how many tiers you want and have the option of sheet cakes to save money. Most cakes are priced by the slice and range anywhere from $1.50 – $15 per slice. Depending on how decorated you want your cake will go into the cost as well. Again, ask for recommendation from friends and family.
Things to Consider:
- Is the icing buttercream or fondant
- Will you have a groom’s cake
- Set-up and teardown costs
- Will you need flowers from your florist for your cake decoration or cake table decoration
- You will need to find someone to cut your cake
- Have plates, forks, napkins at the cake table
- Have your toasting glasses and serving set
- Choose a cake topper, see if your baker will need these decorations before hand
Your Wedding Save-the-Dates, Invitations, Programs, and Thank-You Notes
Wedding invitations can be tricky (especially with who is paying for the wedding or if you have divorced parents). First pick out a style that you like. You can get wedding invitations from so many places, including: Etsy, Minted, Shutterfly, etc. (These websites will also be a good reference for your other paper needs.) Your save-the-date, invitation, and programs should reflect your wedding style and color scheme. Having each piece reflect the style and color will give a beautiful cohesive look. This will tell your guest what type of wedding you are having, whether it be rustic and vintage or modern and glam.
What You Need: Have you received an invitation in the mail? There are so many moving parts and little information on different parts of paper. Your invitation “packet” should include: your invitation, RSVP or reply card, reception cards, and a map of each location for out of town guests.
For your RSVP or reply card, there will be a return date for your guests. Make this no more than three to four weeks after the guest receive the invitations. You will need the final head count to give to your caterer. Some people incorporate their wedding website into this process with an RSVP section. Saving cost on postage and giving people an easy way to look at all your information. (For the older folks that may not be computer literate maybe the good ole RSVP card is best.) You can also do a fun twist with this and ask your guest for a song request or meal choice.
Mail: Keep in mind all the postage you will be purchasing at this time. Each save-the-date, each invitation, and each RSVP card return. Send out your save-the-dates six-eight months before your wedding. Mail your invitations six-eight weeks before your wedding. Go to the post office and have your invitations weighed. This will save you a lot of time in the long run with the chance of the invitation being returned to you because there is not enough postage. Ask about hand-canceling your invites. This will prevent your invitations from going through the processing machine like regular mail, preventing them from getting bent or ruined. All the post office has to do is put a special stamp on your invite.